An explosion on Wednesday pierced a building in central Madrid, killing at least three people and injuring 11 others, Spanish officials said as rescuers tried to treat the injured.
Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida told local news outlets that the explosion appeared to be the result of a gas leak, the Interior Ministry said later that it investigated the cause.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed the explosion in a post on Twitter and shared a police warning urging residents to stay away from the scene.
“Unfortunately we have to mourn several people,” he wrote in a later post, noting that he had spoken to the mayor to show his support and solidarity. “All of our regrets and love for the families of the deceased and injured.”
Videos broadcast on local news outlets and shared on social media showed smoke rising from the damaged building where the facade appeared to have been torn down from the top six floors and debris visible in the street. Dozens of firefighters and rescue workers could be seen treating the injured near the construction site.
Another video, captured from a neighboring building, showed the widespread impact of the explosion. Cars parked on the street in front of the building appeared mutilated, their roofs partially collapsed and covered with a thick layer of brown debris.
Smoke was visible from the heavily damaged structure that appeared to be bearing the brunt of the explosion while the windows of the building across the street were being blown out. Debris lay on the street.
The explosion occurred on Calle Toledo, a historic street in central Madrid between Puerta de Toledo, a landmark of the region, and Plaza Mayor.
The destroyed building is part of a religious complex with a school and is next to a nursing home whose residents have been evacuated, according to Spanish news agencies.
A nearby café posted a photo of several residents of the nursing home taking shelter there to let family members know they were safe.
The adjacent school yard was covered in rubble from the explosion, and school officials told reporters that a more serious tragedy was only prevented because the children were ordered not to play in the yard due to a recent snow storm.
The explosion came days after Madrid suffered the heaviest snowfall in 50 years, killing three people and paralyzing much of the city.
Raphael Minder contributed to the coverage.